Griner intends to make WNBA return with Phoenix Mercury following release

By Sports Desk December 16, 2022

Brittney Griner intends to play in the WNBA next season, having returned to the United States following her release from a Russian prison.

Griner was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 for bringing under a gram of cannabis oil into Russia in vape cartridges.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist said she made an "honest mistake", while her lawyers argued she was using cannabis for medicinal purposes and was unaware cannabis oil was outlawed in Russia.

Griner was subsequently jailed for nine years for drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent, but she was released in a prisoner exchange that saw convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout return to Russia last week.

In a statement posted to her Instagram account on Friday, the eight-time WNBA All-Star confirmed she plans to play for the Phoenix Mercury in 2023.

"It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn," Griner said.

"I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.

"I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season.

"In doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon."

In her social media post, Griner also thanked those who had advocated for her release, including "the Phoenix Mercury, the players of the WNBA and my entire WNBA family", as well as US president Joe Biden.

When announcing Griner's return, Biden said the 32-year-old had been "unjustly detained" and described the conditions she endured as "intolerable".

The Phoenix Mercury suffered a first-round exit in the WNBA Playoffs in August and are set to begin their 2023 campaign against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.

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